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« Marriage Questions | Main | H.R. 3 »

January 09, 2007

Comments

Tim J.

For those of you who may have missed it, or who are fairly new to Jimmy's combox, the "20" at the bottom of the post indicates that Jimmy's Rule 20 applies (See DA RULZ in the lefthand column for the complete list).

RULE 20:

"When Jimmy is answering a pastoral question (i.e., for a person asking about an actual situation that they or someone they know is involved in, as opposed to a hypothetical situation) that can be phrased in the form "Is it morally licit to do X?", do not contradict Jimmy in the comments box..."

In other words, if you have some additional information that might be helpful, or just want to discuss generally or offer support, please feel free.

If you disagree with Jimmy's perspective and advice, please feel free to get your own blog.

People who send him questions about their personal life are looking for HIS advice, not ours.

Sorry to sound like the Hall Monitor, but this bugs me.

JD

Jimmy-

In the first case--any marriage needs to be convalidated after an annulment for a previous marriage is granted because any subsequent attempt at marriage is impeded by the legally existing prior bond, regardless of whether a moral, or spiritual, or sacramental, bond existed or not. Marital nullity proceedings consider the spiritual or actual circumstance to determine the legal circumstance, and so one's marriage will need to be convalidated because of the legal circumstance at the time of the 2nd wedding.

Pseudomodo

Jimmy,

This whole thing of intent in marriage is interesting. I recently attended a catholic ceremony and because some of my family was in the wedding party I attended the rehearsal.

During the rehearsal the couple ran through all of the elements of the ceremony but the priest stopped them at the vows claiming that if they actually uttered thier vows they would then atually be married at the rehearsal and not at the ceremony the day after.

Now, if the intent of both the priest and the couple in ALL THE PLANNING was to get married on a certain day and not at the rehearsal, then it seems to me that they would not be married even if they actually uttered thier vows in a rehearsal.

If the intent doesn't matter here then it also doesn't matter in other sacraments - like a priest saying this is my body while holding a piece of bread but not intending to consecrate. If this were the case then every time a bishop touched you you would be confirmed or ordained.

That rehearsal spooked me out a bit...

Jimmy Akin

any marriage needs to be convalidated after an annulment for a previous marriage is granted because any subsequent attempt at marriage is impeded by the legally existing prior bond, regardless of whether a moral, or spiritual, or sacramental, bond existed or not

Canon 1085 §2 is phrased such that an invalidly married person attempting marriage would contract a new union illicitly but not invalidly. Ligamen invalidates if the prior marriage was valid (1085 §1). It makes illicit if the prior marriage is null but hasn't been declared so (1085 §2).

Even if there were an impediment established on this point, it would not apply to the marriages of those who have not been baptized or received into the Catholic Church,. Since the impediment would be of merely ecclesiastical law, it would not apply to those who have never been Catholics, per canon 11.

Jimmy Akin

During the rehearsal the couple ran through all of the elements of the ceremony but the priest stopped them at the vows claiming that if they actually uttered thier vows they would then atually be married at the rehearsal and not at the ceremony the day after.

That's dumb.

Shane

One thing that bothers me about all of this, and how the Church has chosen to handle it recently, pertains to a situation such as if someone was baptized Catholic, was never given instruction by his family or anyone else, at some point began going to a Protestant church for one reason or another, and then married there. Now this person would be in an invalid marriage, commiting fornication, because he didn't follow rules that he never knew existed in the first place. I understand that his culpability for the sin may be negated by his lack of knowledge, but all the same he is still in an invalid marriage. He will not receive the grace of the sacrament, may have a troubled marriage, and even if not he will still not achieve the true unity with his spouse that they are seeking, and are possibly seeking through God as very devoted people desiring only to live in a holy marriage before Him. This really bothers me.. any comments are welcome, and I would certainly like Jimmy's thoughts on this if he would be willing to offer them; I've wanted to know them ever since the statement on what a formal defection is.

JD

Jimmy-

you're right, if the marriage involves two non-Catholics. I didn't think out the whole proposition carefully- dangerous thing to do with canon law. In fact, at first I thought about the proposition from a different angle, came to the right conclusion, and then, when thinking about it again, convinced myself I was wrong.

i've got to be more careful.

SDG

During the rehearsal the couple ran through all of the elements of the ceremony but the priest stopped them at the vows claiming that if they actually uttered thier vows they would then atually be married at the rehearsal and not at the ceremony the day after.

Ditto Jimmy, that's dumb. If it were true, actors in a play or movie playing a bride and groom in a wedding scene would (assuming they were both available for marriage) wind up married to one another.

Intent to act out a wedding scene in a dramatic presentation is not the same as intent to actually marry someone. By the same token, intent to rehearse one's wedding vows the same as intent to actually marry someone.

For that matter, if merely reciting the words of the marriage vow makes one married, then an unmarried Protestant minister or justice of the peace who leads a couple in saying their vows ("Repeat after me...") could conceivably wind up married to the bride himself, since he would have said the words of the vow before the groom could do so!

FWIW, Suz and I rehearsed our vows several times before the wedding or the rehearsal. We wanted to say them ourselves, rather than having the pastor either "feed" them to us or else putting the vows to us in the form of a question and eliciting the answer "I do." (Not that there's anything wrong with either of those options.)

Jimmy Akin

you're right, if the marriage involves two non-Catholics. I didn't think out the whole proposition carefully- dangerous thing to do with canon law.

Indeed. I did the same thing when I first wrote the answer.

Incidentally, the answer applies even if it's two Catholics. 1085 sec. 2 would only make their new marriage ceremony illicit, not invalid. If Catholic A married Person B invalidly and has not received an annulment then Catholic A marries Catholic C illicitly but validly.

If none of the parties are or have been Catholic then the second wedding isn't even illicit since merely ecclesiastical law doesn't apply.

Monica

Crikey, this gets complicated. From here on out I'm advising everyone to remain single.

FWIW, I'm seconding Shane's questions. This has bothered me as well since I first heard of the requirements to formally defect.

John Henry

I third Shane's question and second Monica's. I am pretty sure I just found out my marriage is invalid in the Church's eyes. My situation is *exactly* that which Shane describes, with the added baggage that my wife and I are both now Catholic. Everyone assumed during RCIA that I was not Catholic, seen as any and all raising in the faith ceased at my baptism. What's the deal???? Holy crap!

Shane

John, if I'm not mistaken (and I could very well be), unless you did all this before the ruling from the Church came out (which was this past April), then your marriage is valid. See http://www.jimmyakin.org/2006/04/formal_defectio.html

John Henry

Shane,
Instead of "before", do you mean "after"?

Shane

Yeah, I meant after. Actually, I think I meant to say 'if' as opposed to 'unless.' oops.

Patrick

I have a question on the multiple wives, where the husband can only keep one. What happens to the other wives? What if they later want to be baptized and then marry again? Can they do so?

Lurker #59

I'm the one who wrote about INTENT.

Jimmy, correct me if I am wrong, but I think you might be a missing part of my point. You wrote

"""as long as my misconceptions about marriage aren't more decisive to me than my intent to do what Christ wants"""


What I am trying to suggest is that many if not most Protestants are taught in such and such a way that their "mental clutter" is almost always a decisive factor in what they are intending to to do when they get married. They do not have the INTENT to marry sacramentally or often permentaly by the very nature of their being instructed in the Protestant form of marriage.

Especially if we look at marriage as a covenant between the spouses and God.

In general the situation is this for an evangelical type Protestant.

I INTEND to form a covenant with my spouse and God, but this covenant IS NOT a sacrament as Catholics think. I INTEND for this covenant to last as per Biblical Passages A B C, but I also INTEND to be able to divorce as per Biblical Passages X Y Z, unlike Catholics.

Even if the words of marriage are essentially the same between this Protestant group and Catholicism, there is a very different knowledge and intent functioning.

With those clarifications, how can this still be a sacramental marriage.


Additionally, consider Mormon baptism. The words and the forms are at least as close to Catholic baptism as Protestant marriage is close to Catholic marriage forms. Mormons intend to do what Christ/the Church wills, and yet because their understanding of "what Christ wills" and even "who Christ is" is so different, the baptism is not valid.

What I am trying to look at is the intent and understanding, especially of well "schooled" Protestants. To me, it appears sufficiently different to prevent validity of a sacramental form of marriage for at least the "well schooled".

Why is it not sufficiently different?

Thank you very much for your time.

JD

Jimmy-

yes, you are correct, but the marriage would still be sanated.

Ellen

God bless Jimmy, but I have such a hard time with a layman who is a)not a canon lawyer and b) not in pastoral ministry in a parish or doesn't work in a tribunal - giving advice on these questions. I really don't care how many books he has read. Folks, if you have questions, call your diocesan tribunal. Please.

Ellen

comments off. I hope.

JD

Ellen-

I am almost a canonist (one semester left) I do work in a tribunal, and I can tell you that Jimmy is as good as many canonists or "pastoral minister" at dispensing basic canonical advice. Reading the code carefully, having some experience, and thinking reasonably are the keys to good canonical thinking. I, who do this professionally, failed in this very comment post to think clearly about a question and got it wrong, while Jimmy, who does not it practice canon law professionally, got the question correct. So, maybe you are off.

kaneohe

Aloha Jimmy, many thanks for answering my question. Appreciate the help as I want to do the right thing.

PHT to ya! (Paniolo Hat Tip - we have a long tradition of paniolos (cowboys) here in Hawai`i)

Jeff

If the husband is abusive then it may signal that the marriage was invalid?

Is that really how it works? You have to have perfect psychological health to get married?

I wonder if this isn't wishful thinking. People are a wretched bunch and if you start saying that because a party to a marriage is lacking in some way the marriage isn't valid, just imagine the number of marriages this calls into question all around the world and throughout history!

My fear is that whatever the Church says about "presuming validity", Catholics who take these issues seriously are going to naturally start wondering about their own marriages and those of others they know: "I wonder if it's really a marriage?"

And any time a husband or wife is seriously falling short in some way, they are going to say: "Get a divorce; it probably isn't valid anyway," rather than, "Be patient; God wants you to find a way to work it out."

Marriage will in practice--psychologically--become something that exists on a kind of sliding scale of validity.

SDG

I have a question on the multiple wives, where the husband can only keep one. What happens to the other wives? What if they later want to be baptized and then marry again? Can they do so?

Yes. Their natural (non-indissoluble) marriage to their first husband has been dissolved, so they are under no impediments.

sara

I've always been curious about how the intent of the couple during the actual marriage ceremony is different from the intent evident during the marriage proposal. My boyfriend got down on his knees in our church and asked me if I would marry him, and I consented with my whole being. How is that consent different from the consent we gave 6 months later on our wedding day?

SDG

I've always been curious about how the intent of the couple during the actual marriage ceremony is different from the intent evident during the marriage proposal. My boyfriend got down on his knees in our church and asked me if I would marry him, and I consented with my whole being. How is that consent different from the consent we gave 6 months later on our wedding day?

The wedding vows are not just consent but act. To understand this distinction better, it may be helpful to consider that many wedding ceremonies actually have a "declaration of consent" that precedes the actual vows.

To the casual listener, it sounds as if the couple is taking their vows twice: First the pastor asks something like "Will you have this man/woman to be your husband/wife...?" and the bride and groom answer "I will." Later, the pastor asks, "Do you, N, take N to be your husband/wife...?" and the bride and groom answer "I do."

Note that critical distinction: "I will" versus "I do." "I do" is present tense, performative language: In uttering those words and fully intended them, you do what you say.

Performative language is a function of language not well understood today. Other examples include "I give you permission," "I apologize," "I thank you," "I warn you," "I promise you," "I absolve you of your sins," "I baptize you," etc.

With such expressions as these, to say (and mean) is to do. In saying (and meaning) "I take you," you actually do take the other person in the very act of saying so; that is when you are married.

By contrast, in the declaration of consent, when you say "I will," you are merely announcing your intent to do something in the future, not actually doing the thing itself.

Also, as noted above, even if you rehearse your vows prior to the wedding, and actually say "I take you, etc.," assuming your intent is to rehearse the vows and not actually marry the person at that moment, you are not married then, just as unmarried actors can say wedding vows in a play or film and not wind up married.

In addition to all this, there is also another consideration: If you're Catholic, you weren't able to marry your boyfriend at the moment of your engagement, because you are bound by Catholic obligations of form to be married with according to the laws of the Church. So that settles that!

Pat

I've always been curious. In the Gospel of Mathew, marriage is dissoluble if the other party committed "sexual immorality." Does canon law overrule this scripture?

Brother Cadfael

Pat,

Canon law does not overrule scripture. You might say that it is one way in which the Magisterium guides us and helps us to understand the Word of God.

A good rule of thumb. If you read both Scripture and Canon Law, and make every reasonable attempt to adhere to both, you're probably going to be all right.


SDG

I've always been curious. In the Gospel of Mathew, marriage is dissoluble if the other party committed "sexual immorality." Does canon law overrule this scripture?

Jesus doesn't say that marriage is dissoluble if the other party committed sexual immorality. He says, "If a man divorces his wife and marries another, except for porneia, he commits adultery."

What exactly "except for porneia" means is a question of some debate. There is a significant problem with interpreting it as "Unless the other party commits sexual immorality," which is that this would be convergent with a well-known view at the time, the view of the conservative Shammei rabbinical school. (By contrast, the more liberal Hillel school permitted adulterydivorce for a wide variety of reasons.)

Had Jesus merely affirmed the Shammei view over the Hillel view, this would not have been a shocking or radically earthshaking idea. But whatever Jesus meant, clearly his disciples viewed it as astonishing and unprecedented, even going so far as to utter the nearly unthinkable: "If this is true, it is better not to marry!"

Because of this, many Catholic exegetes have argued that what Jesus is really saying is "unless the marriage itself is porneia," i.e., unlawful and immoral, probably by reason of incest. In that case, if you have a marriage that is itself unlawful and immoral, then that marriage can be dissolved. In other words, Jesus is speaking of invalid unions, and declaring that such marriages can be declared null.

For an example of a scholarly defense of this view, see John Meier's A Marginal Jew: Rethinking the Historical Jesus.

Mary

(By contrast, the more liberal Hillel school permitted adultery for a wide variety of reasons.)
I assume this "adultery" is a slip for divorce?

SDG

Ha! Even the Hillel school wasn't THAT liberal! Yes, I meant divorce! :-0

Went back and fixed it. :-)

bill912

For a while there, you had me thinking that the Hillel school was responsible for the "Sinner's Bible", the translation in which there was a word left out of some of the Ten Commandments: the word "not".

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